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Cruise Ship Information

The new Delfin II has fourteen large guest suites include four master suites with 180ª panoramic windows and ten suites –four of which can be interconnected to accommodate families- providing all comforts of world-class suites, yet preserving the spirit of casual and refined elegance. The dining room on the second deck, the observation deck, bar, entertainment center, library, and our special hammock sun deck will be the perfect gathering place for all our guests. This vessel will feature artwork by Peru’s leading contemporary artists. If any artwork strikes your fancy, you may purchase it and we will have it shipped to the comforts of your home.

Atmosphere on board

Delfin IIis a sleek little vessel, with a smart navy blue hull and white superstructure. Although it's 21 years old, it has a timeless, comfortable-but-classy feel, thanks to plenty of highly polished wood and neutral decor in blues, greens and golds. The atmosphere onboard is intentionally informal, a style appreciated by the mainly Australian and New Zealand passengers.

It joined Australian-owned Orion Expedition Cruises in 2011, effectively doubling the size of the fleet; the line has operated with just one ship, 106-passenger Orion, since its startup in 2004. The new ship was acquired on a charter basis from a private owner; previously, it had sailed as Clelia II and was operated by New York-based Travel Dynamics International. It underwent a refit in 2009, and further enhancements were made by Orion before the relaunch. Originally, the vessel was built for Renaissance Cruises as one in a series of six; three of its original sisters now sail as Travel Dynamics International's Corinthian II and British tour operator Noble Caledonia's two ships, Island Sky and Caledonian Sky.

The atmosphere onboard is social and informal. The open-seating dining in the Restaurant (the main dining room) makes it easy to make friends, and on our trip, the larger tables became more and more in-demand toward the end of the voyage, as groups of new friends wanted to dine together. Although it offers the trappings of luxury (top-notch service, generously proportioned cabins and fine food), the ship is comfortable and contemporary, rather than opulent or flashy. The lounge and bar are places to kick back and relax, and you won't feel a need to dress up or make an impression.

Delfin II's itineraries include some serious exotic destinations: Antarctica, Australia's Kimberley, Papua New Guinea and South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, to name a few -- and all in a high degree of luxury.

The big selling point of Delfin II is its included shore excursions, and the emphasis is on getting under the skin of a destination. Everybody explores together, so friendships are quickly formed. Most passengers are ashore all day, and a lot of the tours include extras like lunch in local restaurants. Wherever possible, landings are by Zodiac inflatable, which gives every outing a feeling of adventure. It also turns a shuttle service into a sightseeing opportunity, as you're perched on the edge of the Zodiac, open to the elements, skimming across the water.

Family with Kids/Teens

These cruises are not suited to young children, and families are not actively encouraged, though they're not banned, either. No children were onboard during our sailing, but passengers spoke of several young teens on the Kimberly Coast voyages on the original Orion. These light expedition cruises would suit well-behaved children, ages 12 and older, who were able to create their own entertainment and function happily on a mainly adult ship. There's no children's facilities or babysitting, and children would be expected to dine with the other passengers and fit in with the activities.

Past Passenger Programs

Delfin II comfortably accommodates 28 guests in 10 suites and four master suites. At 120 feet, she is perfectly sized to sail along the upper Amazon River. Her entire third deck is open-air, offering gracious open deck space where the expedition community gathers. Her public spaces are luxurious and well-appointed, and offer sweeping views of the river and rain forest. Furnishings are made of sustainably harvested local rain forest wood, and the ship is decorated with handicrafts from the ribereños, native people of the wildlife preserve we explore. A gracious hotel staff makes an art of providing impeccable shipboard services.

Fitness And Spa

The ship has a small beauty treatment room, where two therapists offer massages, facials, and hair and beauty treatments. They also run occasional exercise classes, including early-morning aerobics at 7:30 a.m. Frankly, most people got more than enough exercise out on tour every day, and we didn't get the impression there was much demand for classes.

A small gym aft on Deck 4 features a step machine, a cross-trainer, two bikes and some free weights.

The ship has no swimming pool, but the hot tub on the top deck proved a social hub on sea days once the heat of the day had lessened. One small sunbathing area is located there, with blue- and turquoise-covered loungers, potted plants and a phone, should you wish to call down to the bar for drinks. The area was rarely used when the sun was shining, as Australians tend to avoid sunbathing, and the wooden decking was in need of repairs, thanks to an unsightly warp. It did, however, liven up around sunset, when people gravitated to the hot tub for a soak and a gossip.

Food & Dining

Imagine yourself, coming back from the wilderness and enjoying an ambiance created by glowing candle-lights, sparkling china and cristalware, were whatever your delight is, we are sure to exceed your expectations and satisfy all appetites of refined taste and sophisticated palates. Welcome to our cuisine, were our dedicated staff pride themselves on carefully prepared contemporary Creole cuisine and exceptional service.

SPECIAL REQUESTS: Delfin Amazon Cruises, will accommodate special request an deal with dietary requirements (children, vegetarian, allergic). Because we sail in such remote areas, all requests must be made at least 30 days in advance.

Entertainment

Being a small expedition ship, Orion doesn't offer traditional cruise entertainment. There are no shows (apart from a crew show one night), no movies, no casino and, heaven forbid, no bingo. The ship's staff led a few fiercely competitive quizzes, although the general knowledge quiz is geared toward Australians. The ship also has an excellent library and a wide range of free DVDs.

Every night before dinner, the expedition leaders provide a debriefing on the day's activities and a briefing about what's upcoming. On our cruise, the debriefings were particularly good, as we had a world-class photographer, Sue Flood, who has worked on many of the David Attenborough wildlife documentaries, as one of our expedition leaders. Her nightly slideshows got everybody thinking about their own photographic techniques. In addition to providing tips, Sue ran an impromptu photography competition on the last day of the cruise. While a professional photographer isn't always on the list of guest speakers, Orion does host guest lecturers on every cruise, such as historians or naturalists, whose areas of expertise are related to the cruising region. In addition, the line has an impressive range of photography expertise among its own expedition staff, several of whom were carrying huge lenses on the shore excursions and were happy to offer photography tips to passengers.

During sea days, lectures were held in the main lounge. The expedition leaders gave talks on flora and fauna, and an eminent Australian historian, Peter Edwards, delivered some fascinating lectures on Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.

Almost all excursions are included in the price of these cruises, and almost everybody participates. In southeast Asia, the nature of the ports of call meant that the tours were sightseeing trips with a coach and guide. In some of the more remote areas Orion sails, excursions could be boat trips, guided hikes and sightseeing in small groups with the expedition leaders on the Zodiacs. Some specialty tours, such as bicycle tours or cooking classes, carry a fee.

Some Vietnamese cultural entertainment was included during the shore excursions. In Hue, we were treated to traditional singing and dancing during a splendid buffet lunch while, in Ho Chi Minh City, the whole contingent of passengers went to a riverside hotel for dinner in a beautiful garden, which was accompanied by a fashion show. Orion aims to include more immersive excursions like this on every cruise.

Orion has a mainly open bridge, and passengers were welcomed by Captain Mike Taylor and his officers at any time except during complicated manoeuvres, or when there is a pilot onboard. On one night, we sailed through a huge and moderately alarming storm, which seemed much less frightening once I'd visited the bridge late at night and seen how relaxed the officers were.

Fellow Passengers

Orion attracts mainly Australians and New Zealanders, with a smattering of Brits and Americans. There is a high percentage of repeaters, some with many cruises under their belts, and an easy rapport with the crew, whom they treat like family. Most passengers on our Vietnam Explorer cruise were older than 50, mainly couples, although there were a few permutations of multigenerational groups, including a grandmother treating two of her adult grandsons, as well as a young British woman travelling with an aunt.

There's a great camaraderie onboard; the open-seating dining gives rise to big, loud, jolly tables at dinner. The ship had little to offer in the way of nightlife, though; apart from one night when passengers danced after the crew show, most people were in bed by 11 p.m.

Tipping

Our recommendation